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Cleveland Browns QB Brandon Weeden Has Four Quarters to Save His NFL Career

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COMMENTARY | No Josh Freeman. No Brett Favre. No big name is coming. The 2013 Cleveland Browns will now live and die with the recently benched Brandon Weeden.

Well, they will for one game, at least.

You didn't have to be a doctor to realize that Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer had seriously hurt himself on an ugly-looking slide in the first quarter of this past Thursday's game against the Buffalo Bills. This brings up an interesting point that seems to arise every football season. Why don't more NFL teams seriously consider hiring baseball players who can teach QBs how to properly slide without tearing ACLs? It's not as if Grady Sizemore is all that busy these days.

I digress.

Hoyer's insertion into the Cleveland offense after Weeden sprained his thumb in the Week 2 loss against the Baltimore Ravens changed the fate of the 2013 Browns. Cleveland was, after two games, winless and without running back Trent Richardson, who had unceremoniously been shipped to the Indianapolis Colts in a move that was thought to be the franchise raising the white flag on the rest of the season. Nobody told that to Hoyer, however, as the former Tom Brady student led the team to back-to-back victories and a tie for the division lead.

All of that came to an unspectacular end on October 3 when Hoyer shredded his knee all because he didn't dive forward in an attempt to ensure that he had earned a first down. It's now on Weeden to put the lackluster stats, poor starts and passes that never should have been thrown out of his memory. Truth be told, the second year man who will turn 30-years old later this month played well against Buffalo. He survived a shaky beginning, he delivered the touchdown pass that tied things up, and, most importantly, he didn't give the ball away.

Here's the thing that Weeden must realize. The Browns, thought to be a dead team walking less than a month ago, are legitimate playoff contenders. Seriously. The AFC North may have three 3-2 sides, but the division as a whole is mediocre. The Ravens aren't nearly as good as they were in 2012, and I don't think they would have beaten Cleveland had Hoyer started that game. Week 4 showed that the Cincinnati Bengals aren't as good as are a Browns team that had Hoyer leading the offense. Both Cincy and Baltimore are a handful of bounces away from being at 2-3 or worse. Anybody who thinks otherwise hasn't been paying attention.

This long-suffering fan base will not stand for the team falling apart because of Weeden. Cleveland losing to the Detroit Lions this coming Sunday would be acceptable. Detroit is very good, after all. Weeden playing as poorly as he did in September and thus keeping the Browns from even having a shot at winning should mean the end of his playing days with the franchise. Whether it is Jason Campbell, Matt Cassel or even David Carr, somebody will need to be ready to take over at a moment's notice. October 13 will be a defining day in Weeden's professional career. He has been gifted with a second chance.

Plenty of former quarterbacks never had such an opportunity.

Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010.

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